Myrtle Beach, SC (June 16)- When most people head to Myrtle Beach, SC, it's a chance for some rest and relaxation. But when the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) rolled into town for last year's Myrtle Beach 250, relaxation was the last thing on ...
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 16)- When most people head to Myrtle Beach, SC, it's a chance for some rest and relaxation. But when the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) rolled into town for last year's Myrtle Beach 250, relaxation was the last thing on driver Lyndon Amick's mind.
After suffering a very disappointing start to the 1999 season, scoring only two top-20 finishes and failing to qualify for four events, Amick and his team decided that the Myrtle Beach race would be one of the last times he would drive the No. 35 Team Amick Motorsports Chevy for awhile.
In an effort to improve performance, the team called on veteran NASCAR drivers Mike Bliss and Elliott Sadler to step in and evaluate the team's equipment.
Amick says not knowing the cause of the team's lackluster showing, coupled with the knowledge that he would be taking a hiatus from driving, combined to make his last trip to Myrtle Beach an unpleasant one.
"I wasn't having much fun here last year, that's for sure," Amick remembers. "I was doubting myself and my driving ability, and that's the first time that's ever happened to me. I'd always been successful in racing, and the disappointment I felt I was causing my team and my sponsors was a pretty heavy load."
As the 2000 season finds the NBS competitors making their annual trek to this South Carolina town, a much more relaxed Amick says he's actually enjoying his trip to the coast this year. Vacationing at his family's Myrtle Beach summer home in the days leading up to this weekend's Myrtle Beach 250, the driver gives all the credit for his improved attitude to his new crew chief, Ricky Pearson, who joined Team Amick in the off-season.
"Ricky's made all the difference in the world," Amick says of Pearson, who also hails from South Carolina. "The guy's got 19 years experience as a crew chief in NASCAR, and he's forgotten more about racing that most of us will ever know. He believes in me, and he makes me believe in myself. He joined us last November, and our team has done a complete turnaround since then."
The statistics put up by Team Amick since Pearson's arrival serves to bolster Amick's argument.
The young team has already matched their 1999 total of three top-10 finishes, but the biggest change is reflected in their qualifying and consistency. The team has only failed to qualify for one event (the season opener at Daytona), and has eight top-20 finishes in 14 events.
"The difference is amazing," says Amick, who now sits in the top-20 in the 2000 NBS Driver's Points Standings. "Last year at this time, I didn't even know if I wanted to continue racing. I never thought I'd hear myself say that, but that's how frustrated I was at the time. Now with Ricky on board, our guys are fired up, I'm fired up, and we feel like the sky's the limit."
Amick says his team's next goal is to score their first top-five finish of the season, which, based on his past success at the .538-mile Myrtle Beach Speedway, could come this weekend.
"I've qualified well here in the Busch Series (8th,1998 and 6th, 1999), and I have a top-five finish here (4th, 1998),"says Amick, who also raced at Myrtle Beach in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series. "The key to a good finish is to qualify near the front, because there's so many cars on such a short track, a lot of people are going to get caught up in wrecks."
For most people, the thought of mixing it up with 42 other cars on a half-mile oval might be cause for some apprehension. But after weathering the strain of last season, Lyndon Amick says it's like a day at the beach.
"I'm hanging out with my family, I'm in my home state, I got to take a few days off, and Saturday night I get to drive a racecar to boot," Amick says with a laugh. "What is there to be stressed about?"